Friday, July 07, 2006

Old pictures, new pictures: good pictures

Magnum has always had the big guns in its stable, the names are just frightening big. However given the recent changes in journalistic photography, they've begun to do a lot more than just sell and manage the work of these artists. One of these very interesting endevours is their today's pictures at the Slate website. The most recent one on the decisive moment made me want to blog this. It has Cartier-Bresson's definition of the decisive moment. Different from what I believed it was...

Anyway, the other big thing off course are their Multimedia presentations, see them ALL if you can. They're an education in themselves, in photography, the art and the talk. For 'popular' media they are amazingly 'critical', in the sense of art criticism. They are reflexive and view photography and photographers as much as the products, the photographs or the stories.

One of the things I love to do is look at pictures, mine and those of other people. I'm not a careful a reader as I'd like to be, patience doesnt come easily to me. And images have a different language, that requires a relearning. But I love practicing my eyes, it gets there slowly, a bit at a time. These resources ensure I've a lot to look at.

Sometimes off course one worries that these things arent quite contemporary enough. (Although Magnum does have stuff on recent events, very recent ones, the photographers really aren't, although I'm not really sure who the contemporary ones are.) Also off course, the Magnum kind of person rarely strays outside the journalistic/social issue core. I suppose its a good idea to be looking at other movements, the fashion/commercial/art people do tend to push the envelope somewhat more. (I don't even know how to really categorise them, they are different.)

Do take a look, its kinda cool, all those images. They make me starry eyed.


sohrab said...

oh nooooooo..
ok.. so if you dig into the archives of magnum, you're bound to find work that mostly deals with the journalist/social documentary kind... but the face of magnum has changed a lot since its inception, mainly since the 90s.. (infact that's one of the reasons why photographers like james nachtwey and all started VII because they believe that VII stands for all the principles that magnum USED to stand for..)
magnum has always encouraged humanistic photography.. (it's however always been taken for granted that humanistic that humanistic is journalistic).. but do you know that 2 of magnum's founding members robert capa and henri cartier bresson had their own isuues.. capa used to always tell bresson to chuck his surrealistic style and adhere to what HE believed were magnum principles..ofcourse bresson did a lot of journalistic work.. especially in india.. but he couldn't just be classified as a photojournalist could he?? i mean in the same was as capa..
and what about someone like philipe halsman as well????? he was like salvador dali's protege..

and there are so many more older photographers who donot necessarily stick to the genre of journalism..

even if you look at the younger photographers (apart from trent parke.. who ofcourse you already know about)
there's also antoine d'agata (who apart from being one of my big big influences is also considered to be one of the most important contemporary photographers along with michael ackerman of vu) and then there's alec soth (who i find so boring that i could fall asleep while going through his work... but he's very very influential apparently.. not that i'm really fond of him.. but his niagra work is not all that boring.. though i coulnd't care much for it..)

magnum's face is changing drastically.. and this does bother many of the older members and the cranky ones.. (people like abbas and all.. if you read any of the books on magnum, you can get lots of gossip and stuff.. about how abbas and others were quite bitchy about salgado and stuff like that.. :)) it took 3 attempts for someone like martin parr to become even a nominee member.. they had to vote thrice.. and i think in the third attempt he became a member just because of an extra vote in his favour.. apparently lots of people were not very happy about the inflow of art photographers.. and bresson, while he knew about parr's new membership, hadn't seen any of his work and was not present for any of the votings.. but when he did get to see parr's ehibition for the first time.. he actually called up whoever the president was at that time all riled and all asking how someone like parr could have been made a member..

so you see.. magnum no longer has that one face it's famous for...
also.. many of the members donot specialise in pure journalistic work/ social issues, though they might have dabbled in it at some point of time..

you should check out the work of VU photographers.. but there's not much work online..

p.s. oh.. and actually.. it was robert delpire who coined the term "decisive moment" for the first time.. in trying to describe bresson's photographs.. and bresson's definition of it came much later.. i think after publicly giving up photography for painting..

Natasha said...

"magnum has always encouraged humanistic photography.. (it's however always been taken for granted that humanistic that humanistic is journalistic)"

Yup you're right there, a lot of the photographers in Magnum cannot be classified into 'journalistic' as a broad brush...wrong label.

I've seen Hallsman before some of these appeared in LIFE didnt they (the jumping stuff gets a lil repetitive and boring)? I didnt know he belonged to Magnum. To be honest I dont know the agency all that well and if I came off sounding like I did I ought to apologise. I just found these resources, and think they are cool to look at.

hmm also I dont like soth and i dont know parr.

Natasha said...

I suppose you're talking about this as well I guess.